15 December 2023

Collaboration in New Orleans (And an Alligator)

Written by: Victor Magana

At the beginning of December, I had the privilege to meet with the whole of the Headquarters Infrastructure Management Division (IMD) in New Orleans, LA. It was my first time in New Orleans and being able to explore it with interesting people was fantastic. Not only did we get to see the beauty of the Big Branch Marsh and Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuges, but we got to meet the welcoming and hardworking staff who take care of them (as well as an alligator with a Santa hat).

Although we spent a good amount of time exploring, we also spent the days discussing and learning from each other. The planning team for our retreat had developed a well thought out day-to-day agenda that guided us from the bigger picture of IMD, to our branches, and finally us as individuals. This process gave me a perspective on how my work contributes to our division and its priorities. I was excited to hear everyone’s opinions on issues that we faced as a division and how to bridge gaps in communication that can impede progress. It seemed like there were issues that many people were experiencing but had not realized they were experiencing it collectively. One example is not having proper training for new technological resources that are at our disposal, which was recognized by leadership and is now being addressed. I believe having a retreat like this is beneficial to morale and collaboration because it allows us to take a step back and appreciate how our work is intertwined and how we can operate as a community of expert individual supporting each other. 

Overall, I really enjoyed being able to see new faces and even familiar ones I had only seen from behind a computer screen. It was refreshing being in a different group with different people during every activity and it was a pleasure getting to know everyone on a professional and personal level. I especially liked how the ice breakers gave us the opportunity to experience each other’s creative sides and to collaborate on something other than work. I really appreciate the hard work the planning team put into this trip, it was thoughtful and effective, and it set high expectations for any future work trips I might have. This retreat will serve as a wonderful memory of working with the inspiring people within this division and I look forward to continuing to work with them.

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